Organized theft ring steals tomatoes, cucumbers

| Monday, April 18, 2011

A team of drivers familiar with the rising prices of produce and frozen meat found a niche, registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, contacted brokers and picked up their loads on schedule in late March.

The only problem? They weren’t legitimate, and instead took a total of six loads worth of tomatoes, cucumbers and frozen meat.

The Florida thefts made headlines because of the unusual cargo theft target, as opposed to more commonly sought-after freight like electronics and pharmaceuticals.

The fake company reportedly called itself E&A Transport Express, and based itself out of Miami. The thieves swindled the brokerage firm Old North State, The New York Times reported, and Allen Lund, a Florida broker.

Lund told the Times that the broker verified the fake company’s federal registration and insurance, and later picked up loads with a reefer.

Lt. Twan Uptgrow of TOMCATS, a special unit headquartered out of the Miami-Dade Police Department that targets cargo theft exclusively, told Land Line Magazine that several local and state law enforcement agencies were working on the investigation, including the Florida Highway Patrol.

For more on TOMCATS, read Land Line Magazine’s 2008 feature article titled “Grand Theft Cargo.”

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